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Prospect Pool Overview: Edmonton Oilers

In the pursuit of success, the Oilers have found themselves with a prospect pool that's lacking. Still, there's some decent pieces to watch, and Tony Ferrari took a close look at the players you need to know.
Philip Broberg

The Edmonton Oilers boast the best player in the world in Connor McDavid and one of the best scorers in the world in Leon Draisaitl. They have been in win-now mode for a few years now and their prospect pool has taken a hit because of it. 

Although they’ve kept their first-round picks as of late, they have been more than willing to move second and third-rounders in deals to bolster their NHL roster, which has been where most teams build the depth in their prospect pool.

So, where are the Oilers right now?

They certainly don’t lack talent at the top-end, even if it isn’t top-tier Grade A talent, with players such as Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgault, and Philip Broberg looking almost ready. Tyler Tullio can play all three forward positions when asked, with a high motor and sneaky skill that would fit nicely into a secondary scoring role in the middle-six. Carter Savoie is an all-offense winger who has looked quite good in the NCAA and signed his entry-level deal recently.

Broberg is the biggest name of interest on the blueline. Dmitri Samorukov is another name to watch, although he hasn’t quite gotten up to the speed of the pro game in North America yet. However, the defensive blueliner still has room to grow, especially in a prospect pool that isn’t particularly deep on the back end.

Overall, the Oilers haven’t been able to maintain a strong prospect pipeline while trying to be competitive. There’s work to do in their pipeline but they need to win now, so don’t expect it to happen any time soon as general manager Ken Holland will look to build a contender every year he has McDavid and Draisaitl.

2022 NHL Draft Class

Round 1 (32 Overall) - Reid Schaefer, L, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Round 5 (158 Overall) - Samuel Jonsson, G, Brynas Jr. (J20 Nationall)
Round 6 (190 Overall) - Nikita Yevseyev, D, Bars Kazan (VHL)
Round 7 (222 Overall) - Joel Maatta, C, U. of Vermont (NCAA - Hockey East)

The 2022 NHL draft wasn’t a particularly busy one for the Oilers. They started their day by trading Zack Kassian and the 27th overall pick,a 2024 second-round pick, and a 2025 third-round pick to Arizona in a cap dumping move, acquiring the 32nd overall pick in the process. They moved down five spots and gave away a future second and third-rounder to get some much-needed cap space. Not ideal but it’s all a part of the business when you need to compete for the Cup.

Moving back from 27 to 32 meant that one of the players they coveted would still be on the board. Ken Holland and company walked up to the stage at the draft and selected Seattle Thunderbirds left winger Reid Schaefer. The power forward plays a fairly straight line game in open ice, using his instincts to find pockets of space. Schaefer is a good finisher with a very good catch-and-release shot as a supporting character on his line. The 6-foot-3 winger displays quick hands and some deceptive skill around the crease which could make him an asset at the net front on the powerplay at the next level as well. He isn’t going to be the driver of a line but could very well be an excellent passenger and finisher.

Edmonton didn’t make another selection they took goaltender Samuel Jonsson in the fifth round. The 6-foot-5 netminder is a long-term project who may benefit from a change of scenery moving to Rögle BK J20. He played for a Brynäs IF J20 squad that was pretty overmatched last season so the Oilers are banking on the .883 save percentage being more of a result of the team he was on being poor.

The Oilers then drafted Nikita Yevseyev, a big Russian defender who played at the Russian second level this past year with decent results. He isn’t an offensive blueliner, so the numbers won’t jump off the page, but his physicality and engagement in the defensive zone are what the Oilers liked about him. They finished their night by selecting double-overage center Joel Määttä who has been playing for the University of Vermont. The Finnish center is a defensive specialist who doesn’t bring a ton of offensive pop but could be a nice fourth-line center who can kill penalties in the future.

Strengths

The strengths of Edmonton’s prospect pool aren’t really obvious or all that strong, unfortunately. They have a few notable prospects, but no single position looks “loaded” the way at least one position group looks in most prospect pools. The forward group should produce a few NHLers with Holloway, Savoie, and Bourgault all looking like they could possibly break into the group at some point this year. Tullio is an interesting option for a middle-six scoring option. Schaefer is the new shiny toy that could be an interesting add with the skilled playmakers on the OIlers roster.

Weaknesses

The defensive pipeline is a bit of a mess. Broberg looks ready to challenge for a roster spot in training camp.  Beyond that, the defense corps is looking fairly thin. They haven’t taken many swings at the position recently and the ones they have taken, have underwhelmed pretty wholeheartedly. This is a position the Oil need to address moving forward but with a prospect pool as thin everywhere as they are, drafting the best players available will probably be wise for at least a few years.

Next Man Up: LD Philip Broberg

The Oilers will need someone to step into the lineup now that the Duncan Keith era is over in Edmonton. Broberg brings some of the offensive traits and puck-moving ability that Keith was expected to bring to the game and he’s much younger with fresher legs. The defensive lapses that Keith had at times will still be there as Broberg’s defensive game is still hit or miss, although the improvements he made last year were nothing to ignore. The raw tools have always been there and the young Swede is starting to put them together more consistently. Stepping in on the third pairing is the expectation for the 8th overall pick from the 2019 draft, but if he can showcase his game to its fullest extent, he could be a difference maker by the season’s end.

Prospect Depth Chart Notables

LW: Carter Savoie, Reid Schaefer
C: Dylan Holloway, Tyler Tullio
RW: Xavier Bourgault, Raphael Lavoie
LD: Philip Broberg, Dmitri Samorukov
RD: Philip Kemp, Maximus Wanner
G: Stuart Skinner, Samuel Jonsson

For a deeper dive into the prospect pool with player rankings, check out the Yearbook and Future Watch editions of the Hockey News print edition

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